Geography - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Place, Race and Capital: A Political Ecology of Oil and Gas Expansion in Kitimat, British Columbia

Date created: 
2014-04-15
Abstract: 

Employing a political ecology approach, this thesis analyzes the historical legacy of industrial projects and current responses to oil and gas expansion in the unceded territory of the Haisla Nation, Kitimat British Columbia. Through an analysis of place, race and capital, this analysis illuminates a complex web of power and multiple layers of injustice and dispossession involved in processes of industrial development. As the terminus of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, as well as the site for a number of proposed Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) projects, the future of this territory will be conditioned by the convergence of complex global political economic forces and multiple local interests on the ground. By paying attention to questions of race, this thesis seeks to bring political ecology literature focused on industrial projects into conversation with critical race theory.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Janet Sturgeon
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

The Role of Landscape Understandings, Transformations and the Political Economy of Agriculture in Attracting and Averting Young Adults from Farming in British Columbia

Date created: 
2013-12-16
Abstract: 

Recent critical studies in food geographies have attempted to make “powerful, important [and] disturbing connections between Western consumers and the distant strangers whose contributions to their lives [are] invisible, unnoticed, and largely unappreciated” (Cook et al., 2004, p. 642). These studies are based on the assumption that there is merely a disconnection between ‘Western’ consumption of ‘Non-Western’ production of food products. This thesis reports findings that display far more insidious disconnections at smaller geographic scales of production and consumption that have consequences for both local and global food systems. In British Columbia these disconnections take the form of pro-local food initiative discourses in spaces of consumption occurring at a time where declining numbers of young farmers are able to get access to the land, financial and other resources necessary to continue farming. This thesis builds on concepts within political ecology and land-use planning that suggests that several regions, primarily in the global north, are transitioning away from productive landscapes to either post-productive or multifunctional spaces. Using a qualitative research framework including ethnographic interviews, surveys and archival materials, the research supports the conclusion that farming is becoming increasingly inaccessible and unaffordable to young adults. This is partially based on agricultural production being pushed out of the landscape by other land-uses, but also because landscape and food products have become valued, supported and fetishized in separate ways in BC that create challenges for farms to stay viable.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Peter V. Hall
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Dependence of Regional Climate Change on Greenhouse Gas Emission Pathway

Date created: 
2013-11-20
Abstract: 

This study explores the dependence of the coupled climate-carbon cycle response on greenhouse gas emission pathway. An Earth System model of Intermediate Complexity is forced with 24 idealized emissions scenarios across five cumulative emission groups (1300 GtC - 5300 GtC) with varying emission rates. The global mean response, and regional responses of Arctic sea ice, the Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) and the Amazon are investigated. The ratio of global mean temperature to cumulative carbon emissions is found to decline with increasing cumulative emissions, unlike in previous studies. The long-term response of the MOC and Arctic sea ice is independent of emission rate and proportional to cumulative emissions, with the threshold for an ice free Arctic in September found between 1300-2300 GtC. Both global land carbon and Amazonian broadleaf carbon display non-monotonic long-term responses to cumulative emissions, whereby carbon uptake declines beyond a certain threshold (2300 GtC and 3300 GtC respectively).

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Kirsten Zickfeld
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Obesity in the built environment: a spatial analysis of two Canadian Metropolitan areas

Date created: 
2013-03-27
Abstract: 

Global prevalence of obesity and overweight has rapidly increased over the past few decades. The relative growth rate of the epidemic, particularly in more developed countries, has triggered efforts to explore environmental determinants of weight gain. Research on how the built environment affects weight gain, and health more broadly, has been widely undertaken by public health, epidemiology, and geography disciplines, yet no clear relationships have been identified. Moreover, research on the Canadian context is generally lacking. Methods native to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and spatial epidemiology may prove effective to furthering contemporary knowledge of the built environment determinants of obesity, and overall, contribute to wider disciplines involved. The first paper of this thesis reviews literature from the spatial epidemiology discipline to glean insight from recent methodological development of spatial clustering tools and provide guidelines for practical application. The second paper explores the spatial clustering of obesity and examines the built environment for potential correlates. Both papers take a unique perspective within the respected disciplines they are informing, and thus provide novel results for future research and development.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Nadine Schuurman
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Placing the intersection: A qualitative exploration of formal and informal palliative caregiving in the home

Date created: 
2013-07-24
Abstract: 

Currently over 259,000 Canadians die each year, yet only 15 percent access palliative care services prior to death. This reality raises significant concerns regarding the awareness, accessibility, and meaningfulness of these services for dying Canadians and their families. It also signals a need to examine lived experiences of palliative caregiving in order to gain a better understanding of what needs exist and what barriers may be influencing Canadians’ access to this important care. As equity of access to health care is a main interest of health geographers, I address this need by seeking the experiential perspectives of those who work on the front-lines of providing palliative care in Canada, with a specific focus on the province of British Columbia. Using semi-structured interviews and ethnographic fieldnotes from three research studies, I undertake four diversity- or intersectional-based analyses that employ a relational concept of ‘place’ to explore experiences of palliative caregiving in the homecare context. Findings from the analyses reveal that differences exist among palliative family caregivers and, importantly, that these differences intersect to impact caregivers’ needs and patients’ access to palliative care services and supports. By employing a relational concept of place, the findings show how Canadian palliative caregivers’ opportunities, choices, decisions, and outcomes are shaped by where and how they are situated. As such, this dissertation disrupts the common notion in policy and practice that Canadian palliative caregivers are a homogeneous group with similar needs and thus require similar supports. Furthermore, the analytic findings offer specific implications for and research contributions to the geographies of care and caregiving, palliative caregiving policy, and homecare nursing practice. Considering Canada’s rapidly aging population and impending increased need for palliative care in the coming years, this dissertation contributes knowledge that can help to inform decision-makers and health care administrators of ways to enhance services, improve access, and ultimately, better meet the needs of all dying Canadians and their family caregivers.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Valorie Crooks
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Understanding friends and family members' experiences of going abroad with medical tourists

Date created: 
2013-07-25
Abstract: 

When patients privately obtain a medical procedure abroad they are engaging in medical tourism. Friends and family members often accompany medical tourists abroad to provide care, and are herein referred to as caregiver-companions. This thesis provides a broad understanding of caregiver-companions from an industry perspective. Interviews were conducted with medical tourism facility staff members who interact closely with caregiver-companions: International Patient Coordinators (IPCs). Twenty-one IPCs who work in nine countries were interviewed. Thematic analysis of these interviews resulted two analyses. The first examines the care roles taken on by caregiver-companions. The second examines the challenges that informal caregiving in medical tourism can present to medical tourists, facility staff, and caregiver-companions themselves. This thesis concludes that while caregiver-companions provide valuable care to medical tourists, with assistance from IPCs, they are not fully incorporated as caregivers in the medical tourism industry.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Valorie Crooks
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Geographic injury surveillance in low-resource settings

Author: 
Date created: 
2013-07-23
Abstract: 

Injury is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in almost every country and in almost every age group. The global societal and economic burden of injury dwarfs many other health issues, yet attention to the problem is proportionally low. Effective injury prevention relies on injury surveillance – the collection, analysis, interpretation, and dissemination of data on injury and its social and environmental determinants. Injury surveillance has been widely implemented in many well-resourced settings, yet in most low- and middle-income countries and in low-resource settings within high-income countries, surveillance is poor or non-existent, meaning it is difficult to design effective prevention programs. Given the high-cost and complexity of many conventional surveillance activities, novel, easy-to-use, and affordable strategies must be developed to enable low-resource settings to engage in injury surveillance. The objective of this dissertation was to develop theoretical and methodological knowledge that could enable community-groups, health facilities, and other organizations to engage in injury surveillance activities, especially in settings with limited resources. In particular, this dissertation explores the role of geospatial technologies in all phases of surveillance – from data collection through to dissemination. The dissertation addresses this objective through both hospital- and community-based surveillance activities in two study sites, Cape Town, South Africa, and Vancouver, Canada. In South Africa, GeoWeb technologies and citizen-generated data approaches were used to enable injury surveillance at a low-resource hospital. In Vancouver, a method was designed and demonstrated to understand the relationship between road-user behaviours and pedestrian injury. This method was developed for community-based surveillance and prevention organizations, and was utilized by a local pedestrian safety project to understand a pedestrian injury problem in an impoverished Vancouver neighbourhood. Together, these investigations comprise an integrated project informed by and contributing to global health perspectives on injury. While research at each study site provided empirical evidence pertaining to the local injury burden, the main findings of this dissertation was the broader evidence that could be used to inform geographic injury surveillance in other low-resource settings, whether in high-, medium-, or low-income countries.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Nadine Schuurman
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Influences on Hyporheic Exchange in a Small Coastal British Columbia Suburban Stream

Date created: 
2013-03-28
Abstract: 

This study examined how discharge, streambed topography, and channel planform influence hyporheic exchange in a coastal suburban stream in B.C. Tracer experiments were carried out in four reaches of Hoy Creek in Coquitlam using sodium chloride, and piezometers were installed to determine the vertical hydraulic gradient (VHG). The tracer data were used in OTIS, a transient storage model, to determine the following parameters: cross-sectional area of the stream and storage zone, dispersion, and the storage zone exchange coefficient (α). For the lower reaches, there was no significant relation between α and discharge; however, there was a significant positive relation between α and discharge for the upper reaches. Dispersion and the cross-sectional area of the storage zone did not change with discharge. VHG and streambed tracer breakthrough curves/data showed predominantly upwelling conditions. Hyporheic flow occurred mainly through meander bends, step-pool systems, and riffles.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Ilja van Meerveld
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Bogs and their laggs in coastal British Columbia, Canada: Characteristics of topography, depth to water table, hydrochemistry, peat properties, and vegetation at the bog margin

Author: 
Date created: 
2013-03-28
Abstract: 

The transition zone at the margin of raised bogs (the lagg) is rarely studied, yet it can be important for maintaining a high water table in the peat mound. Where the lagg has been damaged or lost to agriculture, industry, or residential development, it may be necessary to restore a functional lagg inside the historic bog boundary to maintain the ecological health of the bog. Seventeen laggs from raised bogs in coastal British Columbia (BC) were studied to determine the natural range of lagg characteristics in this region. The laggs could be separated into two hydrotopographic forms: Marginal Depression (with mean early summer depth to water table of 12 cm and mean tree basal area of 2.8 m2/ha) and Flat Transition to forest (with mean early summer depth to water table of 34 cm and mean tree basal area of 26.3 m2/ha). These hydrotopographic forms were further classified into four vegetative lagg types: 1) Spiraea Thicket, 2) Carex Fen, 3) Peaty Forest, and 4) Direct Transition to forest (no lagg ecotone). The Carex Fen and Direct Transition lagg types were generally found in the Pacific Oceanic wetland region (cool, wet climate), while the Spiraea Thicket and Peaty Forest lagg types were more common in the Pacific Temperate wetland region (relatively warmer and drier climate). Regional differences in bog and lagg characteristics appear to be related to mean annual precipitation and mean annual temperature. The timing of seasonal fluctuations in depth to water table were similar for bogs and laggs, but the amplitude was generally greater in the lagg. Near-surface pore-water chemistry varied across the bog expanse – bog margin transition: pH, Ca2+ concentrations, and pH-corrected electrical conductivity generally increased from bog to lagg, although not consistently for individual study transects. Mg2+ and Na+ concentrations increased from bog to lagg for less than half of the studied transects. The most consistent indicators of the lagg, which may be of greatest use for delineation of lagg conservation zones include: topography, depth to water table, tree basal area, ash content of the peat, and dominant species.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Ilja van Meerveld
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Spatial-temporal epidemiology of violent trauma in urban environments

Date created: 
2013-03-27
Abstract: 

The World Health Organization has declared violence to be a significant public health problem (2002). This thesis uses a spatial epidemiology approach to investigate clusters of violent injury in the Metro Vancouver area.Trauma registry data were analysed using a visually-enhanced ranking method in geographic information systems to identify violent injury hotspots. The identified hotspots were then examined using environmental, spatial-temporal, victim, and deprivation variables. Data from hotspot observations, victim and incident records, and the use of a Vancouver-specific deprivation index were included.Alcohol availability, time of day, and social deprivation are several of the factors found to be strongly related to violent injury hotspots. However, the hotspots were found to occur in several disparate geographical contexts, each of which is characterised to produce a series of multidimensional profiles of urban spaces of violent injury. To conclude, the emergence of a non-statistical, exploratory paradigm in geographic information science is promoted.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Nadine Schuurman
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.